Energy Use: Patterns, Planning, and Architecture

A Georgia Institute of Technology architecture professor presents his ideas on the major problems with U.S. energy use patterns and resource depletion, and proposes ways of solving them.

| November/December 1974

It was back in June of this year that MOTHER EARTH NEWS received a letter from George H. Ramsey, Associate Professor of the School of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and a clear-headed thinker on the interaction of energy use, economic development, and civilization. "I just wanted to let you know that I read your magazine," he said, "and that you have a friend here at Georgia Tech. I've done a little bit of village planning and I might be of some help when you get ready to start on your self-contained Ecological Research Center. Let me know if you want to talk about it and, by the way, do you know of any good sources of heat pipes?"  

Well, we wrote back and told George to get in touch with Isothermics, Inc. and that we most certainly were interested in picking his brain for Research Center ideas, And that's as far as the matter went.  

Until late this September, when George gave us a ring and asked if he could bring some Georgia Tech architectural students up to see MOTHER EARTH NEWS' offices. "What we really have in mind," he said, "is to get your ideas about the Research Center so we can spend the next semester doing some work on the concept. "  

Well, we weren't really too happy about the offer because we were just finishing the fall catalogs for our bookstore and general store and we were in the middle of this issue of the magazine and a week behind on the deadline for our newspaper feature and some guys on the West Coast wanted to do a TV show about us and we were trying to push the solar-heated house book through and a design firm in Detroit was working on our little car and we had magazines to ship and mailings going out to dealers and merchandise and books to order for the fall season and now here was this professor, for crying out loud, who wanted us to sit down and think about what the Research Center should be like so he could have a "real" project for some college class to work on.  

Damn. Well, OK. "Come on in, " we said, "and we'll try to concentrate long enough to sort of halfway intelligently let you know what we want the Research Center to do."  

And, sure enough, Ole George did bring a dozen junior-level architectural students on in to Hendersonville early in October. And we spent a good long day struggling to find some way to turn our vague, country boy concepts into design parameters that would mean something to people trained (and training) in the field of community planning.  

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